Cover image for Battle dress
Battle dress
Efaw, Amy.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, 2000.
Physical Description:
291 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
As a newly arrived freshman at West Point, seventeen-year-old Andi finds herself gaining both confidence and self esteem as she struggles to get through the grueling six weeks of new cadet training known as the Beast.
Reading Level:
650 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.0 12.0 36684.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 18 Quiz: 24225 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Andi Davis is looking for an escape from her disorganized, dysfunctional home life, and West Point seems the only logical way out. Andi figures that given everything she has had to put up with at home, West Point will be a breeze. But nothing could have prepared her for the first six weeks of cadet training, better known as Beast.

Andi is screamed at, belittled, and worn down during the long, grueling training that is designed to break cadets and then rebuild them into soldiers. The upper class cadets bark orders so fast that her head spins, and the fact that she is one of only two girls in her platoon makes things even more difficult. But Andi decides that anything is better than going home, anything.

This first novel by Amy Efaw, a West Point Class of 1989 graduate, is a powerful and gripping look at an intensely privatecommunity with its own rules and regulations. It shows us the terrors and triumphs of those who want to belong to a team.

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"In this insider account of a female cadet's first summer at West Point, readers are given a potent dose of military life," wrote PW. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Andrea Davis accepts an appointment to West Point, knowing its reputation for strenuous training but believing it can't be any worse than surviving her abusive mother, her silent father, and constant family fights. Andi believes her dysfunctional family has prepared her to meet all challenges. The story chronicles "Beast," the aptly nicknamed new-cadet program, from a female plebe's perspective. Nothing is left out, from arrival blitz through grueling physical training, "square" meals and lack of sleep, military science, and the daily regimen of marching and torment from upper-class cadets. Team building is always the training focus. Andrea confronts stereotypes and negative attitudes toward women in the military, fights her own fear of failure, and pushes herself to prove her abilities and worth. Based on Efaw's experiences, the novel provides insights into long-held traditions at a mostly unfamiliar, formerly male-dominated institution. Intense depictions of pain and the mental and physical near atrocities plebes suffer make this compelling, at times stomach-turning, reading.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Battle Dress Chapter One Friday, June 26 7:15 a.m. The morning I left for West Point, nobody showed up at my house to say good-bye. I thought that at least someone from the track team-maybe even my coach-might drop by to wish me luck. But nobody did. So I went to sit on the curb at the bottom of our driveway and waited to leave. I watched my sister and brother get into our blue Volvo station wagon as my dad tossed the last bag into the back and slammed the trunk. He went over to the driver's side and popped the hood. He checked the oil for the second time. Finally, he scowled at the front door and blasted the horn three long times. My mother stuck her frizzy, uncombed head outside and shrieked, "Do you want to eat today, Ted? I'm throwing some food together. Just sit there and wait." "I've been waiting," he yelled back. "Now it's time to leave. Didn't we agree we'd leave at seven? Well, now it's almost eight!" "I'll leave when I'm good and ready. So just shut up! You-" Then her eyes locked on me. "Andi's not even in the car! So what's the big deal? Isn't she why we're going in the first place?" Her head disappeared as the door slammed. My dad glared at me and barked, "You heard your mother. Get in the car!" I sighed, then got up off the curb and headed for the backseat. One thousand miles. Can't wait for this trip to be over. "Move over!" my sister yelled at my brother as I climbed in. "What's your problem, Randy? You always sit in the middle." My brother sulked and slid over. Ten years ago, strapped into his car seat, he'd spat into my hair and smeared partially eaten graham crackers on anything within his reach. Now, at least, his annoying car behavior was limited to blowing out his eardrums with heavy metal on his Walkman. "Just keep your pile of books on your side-" He smirked. "Mandie." She shoved him away. "Fine. If you keep your reeking breath on your side. Do you ever brush your teeth? And don't call me Mandie. I told you, from now on it's Amanda. That's what's on my birth certificate. Don't you think it's tacky that all our names rhyme?" "No, I think it's cool, Mandie." My mother yanked open the door to the passenger's side. "You left the window open in our bedroom," she said to my dad as they both got into the car. "The one over your precious computer. Ever hear of rain?" She crammed a grocery bag on the seat between them and dropped her purse to the floor. Then she turned around and frowned at my brother. "You have those things on already?" He shrugged. "Blocks out your voice." He turned up the volume and closed his eyes. My mother snorted, my dad started the car, and my sister opened her book. West Point, here we come! Before we even made it out of the driveway, my mother started complaining to my dad that the radio was too loud, and why did he always have to listen to the sports station? My dad said that she could pick the station when she started doing the driving. As we whizzed down I-90 past the Sears Tower, my mother turned off the air-conditioning, opened her window, and commanded, "Open your windows, kids. Let's get a nice breeze going." Immediately, hot, sticky air wafted in. My dad punched the air back on and said in his I'm-trying-to-remain-in-control voice, "Roll up your windows, kids. We need to cool this car off." My mother shut it off. My dad turned it on. My mother shut it off. Meanwhile, Mandie, Randy, and I were sweating, our legs sticking to the vinyl seats. Finally, Mandie slammed down her paperback and yelled, "Would you stop acting like a couple of babies? Just leave the air on. Stop being so cheap, Mom." "I'm not being cheap." She stuck her hand out the window. "It's nice outside, and I just want to enjoy it a little. Is that so bad?" "You call ninety-three degrees with ninety-five percent humidity 'nice'?" Randy asked. I guess he can't block out her voice after all. "Just leave it on," Mandie said. "Andi will be gone in a few days. Can't you attempt to limit the amount of misery she is forced to endure?" I smiled. For as long as I could remember, Mandie had always stuck up for me, like a big sister should. Except she wasn't my big sister. She was two years younger than I. Maybe she felt guilty because I caught so much grief and she rarely did. "Well," my mother snapped, "you can at least turn it down, Ted. It doesn't have to be on so hard." For some reason, my mother always listened to Mandie. I could tell right away that this bad day was only going to get worse when we stopped to fill up at a Texaco station outside Hammond, Indiana. "I think it's crazy that we have to stop so soon," my mother whined. "Why didn't you fill up before we left? You know gas costs more on the expressway." "Because," my dad said, watching the numbers roll on the pump, "if we would've stopped in town, we never would've gotten out of there! You would've said, 'I need to run into Jewel real quick to get something.' Then it would've been Kmart, then . . ." "Oh, just shut up, you dumb-" "Watch your mouth!" my dad spat. She finished her sentence anyway. Shortly after we crossed the Indiana-Ohio border, my mother pointed to a rest stop. "Pull over here, Ted. I have to pee." "You just went," my dad said as he sped past the stop. "And do you have to be so crass? Say 'urinate.'" "I told you to pull over! I really have to go!" "No! We're making terrible time. In a couple of hours we'll need to fill up with gas. We'll stop then." "A couple of hours?" she howled. "Who do you think you are, God? You can't dictate when I can and cannot pee." She emphasized the word "pee." "Oh, yes I can! I'm driving. I decide when we stop." "Then I'll drive!" she screamed, grabbing the steering wheel. The car swerved into the left lane, nearly hitting a red pickup truck. Car horns blared all around us. I grabbed the door handle to brace myself. Battle Dress . Copyright © by Amy Efaw. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Battle Dress by Amy Efaw All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.